March 30, 2021

How we’re Missing out on Real Life.

Don’t Worry, There’s an App for That…

We are a technology-driven culture, aren’t we?

There is constantly something vying for our attention. It isn’t our children and their ridiculous cuteness and small child shenanigans that I am referring to. I am talking about the TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, whatever-else-click-on-me apps, or social media that demands our attention, or should I say, devours our attention.

I am a recent social media deserter. By this, I mean I started to shut off, deactivate, and move myself away from social media platforms. That was the start. This led me, for some reason, to start noticing that there is an app for dang near anything. There are apps to run our electronics, apps for managing money, and apps for checking the diagnostics on our vehicle. There is even an app for telling us if we missed a spot while brushing our teeth as it connects to our toothbrush. Does anyone else see a problem with this?

Recently, my significant other and I went on a search for a new bed. Back problems and other physical ailments from the joys of growing older have forced us to start looking into solutions for a better night’s sleep. We went to a certain store that was more than happy to tell us that we could download the app to not only monitor our smart bed but also control the bed itself.

Nope, no, absolutely not. I, without any reservation, told my partner, “You grab your phone in the middle of the night and start messing on an app to control the bed, I will break the phone.” I really don’t give two hoots that it is a coveted iPhone. The thing will no longer function as a phone—an overly expensive paperweight maybe…but certainly not a phone.

Why, do you ask my angst toward a seemingly small detail? Now, let me be clear, I can be called a hypocrite on this. I have apps on my phone for weather, geocaching, banking, and the international space station. I have my own fair share of mindless apps, but it is getting to be too much. Every radio station, every website, everyone seems to have an app.

“Download our free app” has become the norm. It all starts for me with stepping away from social media. I realized how large of a chunk of time I was wasting with my head down looking at my phone. Once I lifted my head up from the social media sites, I realized that I was not the only one walking through life with my head down—everyone is walking through life with their head down.

You’d be hard-pressed on any given day to walk through the facility I work at on lunch break and not notice everyone looking down. How much of a society are we missing by not looking up and greeting others and even just saying, “Hi”?

How much of a society are we not seeing what is going on around us and just observing life? I remember when I was a kid going to a department store and observing. It was a great people-watching activity. Do you remember the last time you just put the phone down and watched people or the world going on around you? Watch how they interact, react, walk, their body language? How about watching how the tree branches sway in the wind? Or how a bird takes off from a branch and lands again? Have you noticed lately all the sounds that are coming alive with the season? If you are in the city, the different sounds each vehicle makes as it rolls down the road?

It’s the little things in life we are missing.

We have become ingrained to grab our devices as soon as there is a moment of free time that we don’t just take a moment to soak in our surroundings and just observe. We grab our phones and quick-scroll on whatever app we have that is readily available and can offer the greatest distraction, even if it is just a second while standing in line at the grocery store.

Sharing—we share everything. We share photos of everything we do, eat, places we go, things we like, we don’t like, our kids, our pets, and even our random, weird neighbor. Depending on the app, you can have filters, effects, or touch-ups to appeal to all the masses and make the mundane exciting, or so the perception will be.

Rarely do we stop and just live in the moment. Our lives are consumed with our apps and devices. The FOMO (fear of missing out) has a strong pull on us. Until we recognize that there is a need to step away from our devices and start to live in the moment, the path will continue the same as it has. People will become less and less engaged with life around them. It will take determination to start taking our lives back. Take the control that our devices have over us and put that control in its place.

Then again, we have to want to live our life that way. We have to want to become more mindful and observant of the world around us.

The first step is to put our devices away for even just 10 minutes and take in everything. Stop being so worried about the virtual world and worry about the present. Listen to the wind in the trees; smell the air in your neighborhood; notice the small pebbles under your feet as you walk; notice the small plants coming up in the cracks in the sidewalk.

It will take a little bit to get used to, and if you find you have problems with getting started, don’t worry; I am sure there’s an app for that.



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